The NV10 ($399) is one of three models in Samsung's stylish new NV series of digital cameras. This one's a compact camera (though not as small as the NV3) that features a 10 Megapixel CCD, 3X optical zoom lens, digital image stabilization, and a 2.5" LCD display. Those are all pretty run-of-the-mill features.
What really makes the NV10 stand out is its unique Smart Touch user interface. Instead of having buttons for specific purposes all over the camera, the NV10 has 13 "Smart Buttons" around the LCD. The function these buttons perform depend on what icon is above it. If I want to change the resolution, I first press the third button from the left. This brings up the various resolutions, and I use the buttons on the right to select one. It takes a lot of getting used to, but it is a real time saver compared to the menus usually found on digital cameras (in most cases)
In playback mode these buttons work as a sort of "scroll wheel" -- just run your fingers across the button buttons to move between photos. The problem is, the buttons are too sensitive, often sending you racing past the photo you want. When you use the playback zoom feature, the buttons are not responsive enough, making this feature very sluggish. Still other times the buttons ignore your finger altogether, and nothing happens.
I put together this one minute video clip showing the Smart Touch interface in action. You can see the unresponsiveness that I just mentioned a few times in it. Here goes:
Of course, having a cool interface doesn't make much of a difference if a camera can't take a decent photo. Find out how the NV10 performs in our review, which starts right now!
What's in the Box?
The NV10 has an average bundle. Inside the box you'll find:
The 10.1 effective Megapixel Samsung NV10 digital camera
SLB-0837B rechargeable lithium-ion battery
CD-ROM featuring Digimax Master and drivers
72 page camera manual (printed)
As is the case with many cameras these days, the NV10 has built-in memory instead of having a memory card included in the box. The NV10 has 20MB of onboard memory, which holds just three photos at the highest quality setting. That means that you'll want to get a memory card right away, which drives up the purchase price of the camera a bit. The NV10 uses Secure Digital and MultiMedia (MMC) cards, and I'd suggest a 1GB card as a good place to start. Based on my usage, I don't think that a high speed memory card is needed to get the most out of the NV10.
The NV10 uses the same SLB-0837 lithium-ion battery as a few of Samsung's other cameras. This battery packs 3.1 Wh into its compact form, which isn't very much these days. Unfortunately, Samsung doesn't use the CIPA standard for their battery life numbers, so it's hard to compare it to the competition (which does test with the CIPA standard). So, have a grain or two of salt before looking at this chart:
Battery life, LCD on
Canon PowerShot SD900
Casio Exilim EX-Z1000
Fuji FinePix F30
Kodak EasyShare V705
Nikon Coolpix P4
Nikon Coolpix S9
Olympus Stylus 1000
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX50
Pentax Optio A20
Pentax Optio T20
Samsung Digimax NV3
200 shots *
Samsung Digimax NV10
180 shots *
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N2
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T50
* Not calculated using the CIPA standard
Battery life numbers are provided by the camera manufacturers
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the battery numbers Samsung provides are fairly close to what the CIPA numbers would be. With that in mind, it's pretty safe to say that the NV10 gets below average battery life in this class.
Like all ultra-compact cameras, the NV10's batteries are expensive ($40), and you can't use an off-the-shelf battery when it runs out of juice. Since the NV10's battery life isn't the greatest, it's probably a good idea to buy a spare.
The NV10 has a rather unique way of charging its battery. All you need to do is plug the included USB cable into the bottom of the camera and then connect it to your computer. A special adapter also lets you use a standard power plug, and you can also use the optional camera dock that I'll mention in a moment. Whichever way you do it, it takes between 130 and 150 minutes to fully charge the SLB-0837.
As is the case with all compact cameras, there's a built-in lens cover on the NV10, so there's no lens cap to worry about.
There are just a few accessories for the NV10. First up is a camera dock known as the SCC-NV2 (price not available). The cradle/dock offers USB and A/V outputs, and it also charges the battery while its inside the camera. There's also a wireless remote control available, and I don't have pricing or availability for that either. And that's about it in the accessories department!
Samsung includes their Digimax Reader software with the NV10. While not the most attractive or powerful software on the market, it gets the job done. Digimax Master is for Windows only -- there is no Mac software included with the camera (iPhoto will work fine, though).
The main screen of DM has the usual thumbnail view, and from this screen you can rotate, print, and e-mail photos. As you'd expect these days, the thumbnail size can be adjusted.
Double-clicking on an image opens the edit window. If you're editing a JPEG you'll find all kinds of tools on the left side of the screen, including an "auto enhance" option. There are also tools available for putting type (or drawings) on top of a photo.
While the NV series of cameras are new and improved, the manual is not. Expect a cluttered layout and a lot of "notes" on each page. In other words, it's not very user friendly.
Look and Feel
All three of the new NV-series cameras have two things in common: they're black, and they feel like they've been carved out of a solid piece of metal. The NV10 is compact (but not as small as the NV3) and extremely well put together. There are just a few buttons dedicated to specific camera functions, and they're all easy to reach. The rest of the buttons are the Smart Buttons that I told you about at the start of the review.
Now, here's a look at how the NV10 compares to similar cameras in terms of size and weight: